CONTAINS SETLIST SPOILERS
We went to see Gary Numan last night playing at a fairly small venue in Austin. There were about 900 people there, we were fairly close up about five rows back and near the speakers, something Baron is aware of this morning (I wore earplugs.) It had been set up to be a bit of a disaster - torrential rain all day - I mean torrential. And it was cold too, so a bit of a grim combination to be at an open air venue. Anyhow, the minute we got out the car in our raincoats the rain stopped, just like that and never came back.
We caught about half of a technically proficient but soulless support band and got close up. My main concern for the whole thing, having avoided any set lists, was that I had been reading interview after interview about how he didn't want to be obliged to play any of his old material. I had given some of his newer stuff a listen and while I didn't dislike it as such, I don't think I would ever seek it out to listen to more than once. Of course, all his early stuff is tied up in a very strong emotional connection with that time in my life and that's the feeling I was seeking to replicate (ha ha see what I did there).
The stage was pretty small really and it's a fairly physical show, both guitarists do a lot of leaning over into the audience in a menacing way and they are both big blokes, one of them used to be in Pop Will Eat Itself I think - I looked them both up but can't recall their names just now. I hadn't realised he was so short actually,but then they did dwarf him. He started off with something from the new album - don't ask me what - but then next up immediately started playing 'Metal' ( I think, I went so ape I can't remember) - and this is how it went - about three new ones would be followed by something older. He played a cripplingly gorgeous version of Down in the Park which almost had me going full lighter wave bastshit, and at one point brought on his daughter to sing vocals with him for "My Name is Ruin."
Highlights were for me - seeing the very human Numan (sorry) clearly enjoying himself so much. I mean, he was having a whale of a time out there, no doubt about it, and was throwing shapes that put me to shame. His band, too, clearly enjoyed themselves. I particularly enjoyed the times when he went back into the darkness and dicked about on his synth, leaning into it like a madman. Wonderful. I was close up enough to be leaning into the band and singing along and doing air punches and air keyboard playing. The end of Down in the Park for example, I kept on doing the keyboards in the air at the end long after everyone else had started clapping and I rather enjoyed that.
The encore was full of old songs only - he came back twice - and played Cars, Are Friends Electric and I Die You Die. I fucking love, love love I Die You Die and I couldn't move as it was packed so I jumped up and down on the spot, which my spine took some exception to.
Low points - I couldn't fathom the crowd's reaction really. I don't understand why you would go and see a band, and do muted clapping. You've paid money to go and see someone, and you know that artists have a reciprocal thing going where the more enthusiastic the crowd is, the bigger the high they get, and this energy is transferred blah blah blah. Yet so many people stood still and whatnot. They wanted an encore, but then when he did one, they were pretty quiet. I don't think I really understand Austin show attending audiences, and the vague too-cool-for-school- or applause attitudes that seem to be everywhere. I also disliked the vast amount of his set that contains false endings (or dramatic pauses, whatever you call them.) These work well for drama when you are listening in your car, but at a live show, when absolutely everyone starts clapping and whooping and you then continue to finish the unfinished song, it ruins the effect somewhat, plus demonstrates that the crowd have not been listening to your songs at home.
Numan fans of all ages should go, though. I was thrilled.
An aside - what was the phone service where you could call and listen to a record - was it dial-a-disc? When "I Die You Die" came out, I called that line all day once when my mum was at work and listened to it over and over, with my legs swinging on the quite-tall phone table stool. When the bill came, my mother showed my the bill and asked who had called"Dial a Disc". I denied all knowledge. She led me upstairs, first into my room and pointed at all the posters of various popstars. "These are popstars", she said, and then we went next door into her bedroom and she pointed round the walls and said "there are no popstars here," and, in a crushing victory, reminded me that "only two of us live here."
I had to do extra paper rounds for a month